On December 23rd, a new Salafi jihadist group announced its formation in the Syrian city of Homs. Calling itself Jund Al Sham, or “Soldiers of the Levant,” it announced its purpose to wage jihad in Syria.
From the SITE translation of their statement: “After the hoards of the al-Assad gangs, and their Rafidah [Shi’ite] allies, united and attacked Muslims in Syria, it became incumbent upon the monotheists from among the Sunnis who chose the path of jihad and fighting the disbelievers in all their forms and types, to unite on supporting the truth with harmony and love among each other, while rejecting disbelief, and demanding a goal without deviation or backing out ….”
In the initial reports, the identity of the emir of the group, who goes by the kunya Abu Suleiman Al Mujahir was unknown. (Kunyas are honorifics in Arabic, usually derived from the name of the man’s eldest child. They are also used as aliases by jihadists.) From Al Akhbar English, it has been learned that Al Mujahir (The Immigrant) is a man named Khaled Mahmoud, a former leader of Fatah Al Islam. Fatah Al Islam is a Salafi jihadist group that was started in November 2006, in the Nahr Al Bared Palestinian refugee camp in northern Lebanon. It engaged in combat several times with the Lebanese Army and Hezbollah. Fatah Al Islam is still active, and in fact has been involved in the fighting in Syria in recent months.
Khaled Mahmoud had been captured and was held in Roumieh Central Prison in Lebanon, until he was released in July 2012. He then made his way to Syria to join the Salafi jihad against Assad. He announced the formation of Jund Al Sham in December.